Let’s talk about the side effects of the creeping apotheosis of solar power. I mean, don’t get me wrong, we’re a ways away yet — but we’re definitely heading in that direction. “Renewables are about to become our cheapest form of energy,” Wired UK observes. “We expect $7.4 trillion to be invested in new renewable energy plants by 2040 – 72% of the total spent on power generation worldwide,” reports Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
Don’t believe them: How about Bank of America, who “see oil demand peaking by 2030 as electric vehicles boom.” Or Germany’s Mercator Energy, in Nature Energy, who suggest that photovoltaic solar power “could potentially provide fully half of global electricity by 2050.”
You can see it beginning to happen, and its repercussions beginning to hit, in America today. Tesla just signed a deal to sell its PowerWalls and solar roofs in 800 Home Depots. A few days ago in Maine, Central Maine Power responded to four Quakers protesting its opposition to a pro-solar-power bill by having them arrested for criminal trespass. I’m biased — one of the arrestees is a close friend — but it seems hard to interpret CMP’s response as anything other than pathologically dumb and counterproductive.
But what about the new solar-panel tarfif? you might ask. Won’t that be disastrous to the industry? Not so much. An annoyance, not a catastrophe; a speed bump in the way of exponential growth. As renewables guru Ramez Naam (who’s putting his money where his mouth is)
Utility scale solar is ~70% of US solar, so that’s what I’ve talked about first. But at commercial/industrial and residential scales, this matters even less.At residential scale, panels are maybe 1/8th or 1/10th of total price. This tariff will raise prices by a few %.